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The Bees Needs

Tuesday 12th July

The Bees Needs

Bees have needs, as do other pollinators, and it’s vital we provide for them – they do after all play an important part in pollinating our crops. With over 500 square kilometres of gardens in the East Midlands, there’s something we can all get involved with to help provide solutions for the needs of pollinators such as bees – whatever size of our own private green spaces.

There has been much in the media in recent years about bumblebee declines with six out of 25 species of bumblebee having declined by up to 80% in the last 50 years.  It has also been widely reported that honeybee populations have crashed (the main cause of this is an outbreak of a disease) and there has been a 70% reported decline in butterfly species since the 1970's.

In 2014 Defra launched the National Pollinators Strategy for bees and other pollinators in England. Pollinators are important to agriculture and it has been estimated that over 90% of the world’s crops are insect pollinated. In the UK inset pollinators are worth £510 million per year (total crop sales value thought to have directly arisen from pollination services in 2009) and the cost of replacing these insects with hand pollination is estimated at £1.8bn per year (this includes labour and pollen costs).

At least 1500 species of insects pollinate plants in the UK including bumble bees, honey bee, solitary bees, hoverflies, wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies and moths. All have complex life cycles and specific needs. Most require food in the form of pollen and nectar, and need a home for shelter and nest building. The number of insect pollinators is highest in the summer coinciding with peak plant growth and supplies of nectar and pollen (source

The National Pollinators strategy states that the main pressures faced by pollinators are habitat loss, pests and diseases, extreme weather, competition from invasive species, climate change, and use of some pesticides. It identifies loss of flower rich habitat (linked to past intensification of agriculture and other land use pressures such as urbanisation) as the primary cause of declines.

There is plenty of action to help pollinators at a National level. National invertebrate conservation Charity Buglife is working with a number of partners, including The Wildlife Trusts, to identify and map B-Lines across the UK. These are corridors of linked pollinator friendly habitats within which a number of projects which help our pollinators have been (or are being) developed.  

The Wildlife Trusts host the Bee Needs website This contains a number of information leaflets containing advice on how we can help pollinators on a number of different types of land (e.g. garden, woodland, agricultural land).

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust works on a number of local initiatives:

  • The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, in partnership with all the local authorities in the county, has developed the successful Blue Butterfly Scheme to manage and recreate our disappearing grasslands. Around 50 sites are now part of the scheme, helping to ensure that our wild flowers and butterflies are able to thrive. 
  • We have developed special programmes to help those involved in the management of church yards and school grounds do more to help grasslands flourish.
  • Positively managing our grassland reserves on sites such as Wilwell Farm Cutting, Chilwell Meadow, Mansey Common and Eakring Meadows.
  • We provide land management advice to farmers and private landowners and encourage the update of grants and Countryside Stewardship.

Based on Land Use Statistics 2005 the area of domestic gardens in the East Midlands is 545 square kilometres. Therefore, there is plenty you can do in your own gardens. For instance:

  • Grow flowering plants, trees and shrubs that are attractive for pollinators
  • Leave patches of your lawns to grow tall (grass is a pollen source for butterflies such as gatekeeper and meadow brown in late summer)
  • Provide nest spaces for insect, for instance make or buy a purpose build bug box or ‘hotel’
  • Reduce the use of pesticides in your gardens.

Further resources to help with such projects are available at:

Don't forget to share your photos of how you help our pollinators in your green space. Use the hashtag #BeesNeeds and post on Facebook & Twitter.

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